Should Individualized Music Therapy be Considered as an "Essential Medicine" to Treat Elderly with Dementia as Defined by the World Health Organization?




Park, Sung-Hoon

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The World Health Organization (WHO) biennially maintains a list of essential medicines that countries and organizations use to establish internal pharmaceutical supplies and to develop healthcare policies. Despite its effort to provide a comprehensive list, the essential medicines list lacks many other potentially beneficial treatments, such as individualized music therapy. The prevalence of dementia increases each year in many developed and developing countries. Individualized music therapy has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for dementia. Unfortunately, many still lack access to this treatment due to unpopular views regarding complementary medicines and a lack of insurance coverage for such therapies. However, this could potentially be altered if individualized music therapy is added to the essential medicine list. This thesis aims to provide evidence showing the current state of individualized music therapy as a treatment for dementia. It considers the six criteria used by the WHO to determine essential medicine status and details the deficits in the current peer-reviewed research of music therapy that would need further attention in order to be considered by the WHO as an essential medicine in the adults list for dementia. Based on extensive literature review and personal data collection, it was concluded that criteria 1 and 2 have been met, criteria 4 and 5 may need further data, and criteria 3a and 3b definitely need more evidence. This thesis shows that existing evidence to date does not objectively meet criteria 3a, 3b, 4, and 5. Future studies should focus on further developing evidence in these categories before individualized music therapy can be considered to be a core essential medicine for the adults list in treating dementia.



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